I recently completed a discussion of 13 volumes of Marvel Masterworks - Daredevil over in the "What Comics Have You Read Today?" thread. While I'm waiting for the 14th, I thought I'd skip ahead to Frank Miller's celebrated run. I didn't start read Daredevil until nearly the end of Miller's tenure (I'll point it out when we get there), but I almost immediately began collecting backissues and, before too long, had acquired a nigh-complete set. I never did get an original copy of #158, Miller's fist, though. While it was readily available, it was simply too expensive. When I finally got to read it I realized it fit better as the conclusion of the previous storyline rather than as the beginning of a new one, so that's how I'm going to handle it. The question remains, then: with which issue should I begin this discussion?
I've never been a big fan of What If...?... except 1) when the stories were actually part of the MU proper (such as #4, "What if the Invaders Had Stayed Together After World war II?" or 2) when the stories were told by the regular title's creative team (such as #32, John Byrne's "What If the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Powers?). Issue #28, "What If Daredevil Became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D?" (co-plotted and drawn by Frank Miller) seemed to fit that bill, but although a acquired this issue many years ago, I did not read it until today.
It's honestly not very good.
Oh, the story itself is okay, but the continuity (for those of use who care about such things) is way off. Teenage Matt Murdock is struck across the eyes and blinded by a radioactive isotope as per usual, but in this version, Tony Stark is following behind. "Blast it. I told them not to take that stuff through Manhatten! Given five minutes, i could have arranged for air transport!" Well, why didn't you? setting aside that this revelation makes no sense, it opens up the question of Tony Stark's liability in the blinding of Matt Murdock.
But that's not my problem with this scenario. the next thing stark does is load Murdock into his flying car and go zooming off to the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. Daredevil #1 was published in 1964.Strange Tales #135 (the first appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was published in 1965. Even given the sliding nature of "Marvel Time," the accident which triggered Matt Murdock's heightened senses was a flashback. After that happened, he still had to attend college/law school, all of which would have taken place years before S.H.I.E.L.D was created.
I've been looking for an "alternate" beginning to Daredevil besides MMW V1, but this isn't it.
NEXT: "Marked for Murder!"
THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR #2:
Matt takes brutal revenge on his father’s killers, one by one. He tracks one of them to a brothel. In the ensuing scuffle, Matt accidentally knocks a hooker out of a window, killing her. I think this in the scene which poisoned me against The Man Without Fear for a long time. But I see now how Miller used this event to shape him into the man he would become. Ironically, I didn’t really even take much note of this death the first time I read it; it was only while discussing it with a fan years later it was brought to my attention. Then I had kind of a knee-jerk reaction without taking into account why Miller included that scene. What do you think of that scene?
Stone and Stick discuss both Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios. At this time, Stone is for training Murdock and Stick against. Stick mentions that Elektra is already tainted (and this is before her father is killed. Speaking of Elektra, she and Matt meet in quite a different way than they did originally. Granted, that first time (Daredevil #168) was a flashback, and the scenes from both versions could have each happened, but the tone is entirely different. This being what really “happened” in comparison to her actual first appearance being a mere memory (and both being written by the same author), I choose to go with the new version.
This issue foreshadows Matt’s darker side. It also introduces Foggy Nelson.
Wasn't the earlier version of the Matt/Electra meeting Code-approved? This title was not. Miller couldn't done this (his first intention?) under the Code.
I haven't read the story, but this sounds like the "she was only a hooker (or junkie). She's not quite human" bit.
“Wasn't the earlier version of the Matt/Electra meeting Code-approved?”
It was, but this is actually the third (contradictory) version of Elektra’s backstory written by Miller. I plan to point out more of the differences when I get to Elektra: Assassin (from Marvel’s “Epic” imprint, also not subject to Code approval).
Regarding the hooker’s death, she is not even the last person Matt will kill in this mini-series.
NOTE: He also accidentally killed one of the terrorists in Elektra’s first appearance (Daredevil #168).
THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR #5:
This is the story in which Matt Murdock “becomes” Daredevil.
It starts with Matt killing two guards. (He tackles them into the water. One drowns; the other pulls a knife, which Matt turns on him.) I must admit, I had completely forgotten about this development. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like his heroes to kill ever, this story isn’t for you. (Honestly, I don’t have a lot of patience for criminals who prey on children.) Then he sets off some explosives and beats a dozen guards bloody with the policeman’s nightstick he retrieved last issue. Larks runs, taking Mickey with him. Matt tracks them, catches up to them, and says…
“I don’t want to kill you. Let her go.”
Larks shoots him in the arm.
Matt repeats: “I don’t want to kill you. Let her go.”
Larks fires again. Matt swats the bullet away with the nightstick.
“Damn, who the devil are you?” asks Larks.
“Call me Daredevil,” says Matt, embracing the name for the first time. “I don’t want to kill you. Let her go.”
“Daredevil, sure. Whatever. You’re dead, Daredevil.”
“Please. I’m begging you. I don’t want to kill you. Let her go.”
Larks shoots again. Again Daredevil swats the bullet away, but this time it hits Larks right between the eyes.
Later, Matt and Foggy officially become partners. Stick makes a final appearance. Daredevil gets a costume. That’s three more deaths this issue, for a total of four. One problem trying to fit this origin into continuity: there’s no Karen Page. He and Foggy no doubt hired her directly after this story, but that leads to another problem. This story doesn’t lead smoothly into the original Daredevil #1 because Daredevil took his revenge on the Fixer after he got his costume. I’ve got an idea how to reconcile these differences, though, but I won’t get to it for a while. Just keep it in mind. Also, I wonder whatever happened to Mickey…?
The gun on the cover picture must weigh more than she does.